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Boeing laptop with data on 382,000 employees stolen

And in Dallas, the University of Texas reported a network intrusion

By Linda Rosencrance
December 14, 2006 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - A laptop containing the personal information on 382,000 current and retired workers of Chicago-based Boeing Co. was stolen from an employee's car earlier this month, according to Boeing spokesman Tim Neale. He declined to say exactly where the laptop was stolen.

The information included employees' Social Security numbers, home addresses, telephone numbers and birth dates, as well as salary information, Neale said. Although the laptop was turned off and was password protected, Neale said the data on it was not encrypted.

Neale said Boeing is working with law enforcement officials to try and recover the laptop and noted that the company began notifying the affected people on Tuesday. Boeing is strongly suggesting that they sign up for a credit monitoring service, which the company will pay for, he said.

Neale declined to provide details about the ramifications of the theft for the employee involved in this incident. But he did say that the worker had violated several company policies.

The laptop was the third stolen from Boeing in approximately a year, Neale confirmed. In November 2005, a Boeing laptop containing personal data on approximately 160,000 current and former employees was taken. And in April, a laptop containing the personal information on 3,600 employees and retirees was stolen.

Although none of the laptops has yet been recovered, Neale said there's been no indication that any information on them has been compromised.

After the first incident, Neale said Boeing installed encryption software on employees' laptops so that when they saved confidential data to their hard drives, the data could be encrypted. Unfortunately, Neale said, most employees don't use the software, prompting Boeing to now look for ways to automatically encrypt confidential data on employee computers.

Because 90,000 of the affected individuals live in the state of Washington, Attorney General Rob McKenna issued a statement urging residents whose personal information was stored on the stolen Boeing laptop to protect themselves against identity theft.

"Former and current Boeing employees affected by the recent security breach should be aware that they have several options available to help protect them against identity theft," McKenna said. "They can request a credit report security freeze, place a fraud alert with the credit-reporting agencies or continue to monitor their statements without taking further action."

In the statement, McKenna said Boeing notified his office about the theft yesterday. A spokesman for McKenna declined to say whether the theft occurred in Washington.

In a separate incident, the University of Texas at Dallas said yesterday that the personal information of 6,000 individuals employed by the school between 1999 and 2005 may have had sensitive information exposed by a computer network intrusion.

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